Dayton Administration Sees Budget Problems

The Dayton administration says it has big problems with the Republican-led Legislature’s two major spending bills.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton’s education and health and human services commissioners wrote to legislative negotiators Wednesday outlining problems they see in the budget bills as lawmakers look toward a mandatory May 23 adjournment date. Before then, they are supposed to craft a state budget of at least $34 billion for the next two years.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson listed 41 objections she has to a bill that primarily funds welfare and health programs for the poor, disabled and elderly.

“My greatest concern is that a budget reduction target of $1.6 billion for HHS is simply too large,” Jesson wrote to negotiators. “Budget reductions of this magnitude will put vulnerable people at risk.”

Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius wrote to legislative negotiators that House and Senate bills “ignore the governor’s education proposals.”

“I do not consider these bills a starting point for serious negotiations,” she wrote.

On Tuesday, Dayton said he wants legislators to send him spending bills by May 6, but GOP leaders said they will not pay attention to the arbitrary deadline.

The House and Senate have passed eight spending bills and a tax bill that are in negotiations to resolve differences between the two bodies. Dayton complained that those negotiations are not moving quickly enough.